Monday, February 29, 2016

Live Review :: Swim Deep :: The Dome, London - Feb 24 2016

Photo: Roxana Dotsenko

Live Review

Swim Deep + Catholic Action + Sweat

The Dome, Tufnell Park, London

February 24 2016

Words: Rosie Mulhern

After the dreamy, romantic blissfulness of their first album 'Where The Heaven Are We', Swim Deep surprised us all by taking a completely new direction with the drop of their highly anticipated second work, 'Mothers', late last year. It's always good to see a band that isn't afraid to push their own limits and take risks with confidence in their own unpredictability. I think it's no insult for a band to hear that they're 'hard to categorise'. When I interviewed the band's keys man James Balmont at the time of 'Mothers' release, he told me how he felt it was important "not to be bookmarked alongside one particular artist. As long as people struggle to do that for our sound, then I think it means we must be doing something different and that’s what we want to do really - we just want to be Swim Deep".

Judging by their performance tonight at London's sold out Dome as part of the NME Awards Shows tour, I think they've achieved exactly that.

Photo: Beatrix

Warmimg up the night early on were newcomers south-London's Sweat, who successfully fired up the crowd with an enticing set. Their individuality is what struck me most when seeing and hearing their set with their capability of pulling off their unusual indie meets 80s synth-y dance vibe, similar to the likes of Jagwar Ma. Frontman Mike definitely created a cutting edge look for the band, adding to the appeal with his indefinable stage presence as a dramatic entrance was made as he appeared in sunglasses and a white overcoat. It would seem that putting on a show visually and capturing the attention of the crowd, to say the least, was just as important to this band as sounding good.

It was difficult not to be completely engrossed when watching their performance through fear of looking away as you might miss something. Overall, I was left really impressed; they're doing their own thing in the new music scene. After a set which included their just released debut single 'Be Complete' along with 'Tambourine', it ended with the dramatic throwing of the mic stand and tambourine that was casually held next to him throughout the performance, adding to the sheer air of confidence this 'sweaty' outfit exude.

Photo: Rosie Mulhern

Next to the stage was Glaswegian four-piece Catholic Action. I had heard about this band before due to the praise and hype that other bands within the current indie music scene were giving them - such as tonight's headliners, for example. With a tight and refined performance of their lively tune 'L.U.V', an Adam and The Ants meets 70s glam rock track, it was hair-swishing galore as vocalist Chris McCrory mumbled through a veil of his locks: "I've had it cut since I was here last, but I still can't see a thing."

Photo: Roxana Dotsenko

After growing anticipation, the lights went down and the familiar surge of frantic fans pushing towards the front took over. The stage was polluted with smoke and hazy blue lighting as a guy (who looked as if he could've been in the band) strolled onstage playing the trumpet, to be followed moments later by the Brummie four-piece themselves, making an assured entrance. Regardless of the fact that the band now seem centred around London, they'd clearly stayed true to their roots with frontman Austin Williams promptly throwing a "Y'am alright?" at the crowd; proving -  you can take the B-town scene band member out of B-town but can't take the B-town scene out of the band member.

Photo: Roxana Dotsenko

The sheer enthusiasm from both the band and crowd seemed too much for the size of the venue; the fact that this was their longest set ever with 15 songs played -including ‘Namaste’, ‘One Great Song And I Could Change The World’ and 'Is There Anybody Out There' - from both albums, added an even bigger sense of excitement for the band. It was clear to see their humbleness was still very much intact with Austin slurring out several "thank you's" between songs and insisting: "You don't know how grateful we are, It's nice to see that people are actually having a dance as well."

It was hard to keep a fibre in your body still as the euphoric first few bass notes of old classics 'Honey' and the synth heavy fan favourite 'King City' gave the intimate venue a run for its money, as if a go-ahead for a bigger outburst of energy. I was intrigued to know how the crowds would react to some of their newer material live but knowingly, as this  was the second time seeing them live since their album release, although creating a different feel in comparison to their older songs, they still had just as much of an impact. From hearing older album tracks such as 'She Changes The Weather' and 'Red Lips I Know' you’d be deceived by expecting a rather mellow and laid-back vibe when played live, but the band and crowd completely over-ran expectations as the response from both Swim Deep and the audience couldn’t have been more lively with the ecstatic crowd shouting back the lines from old classics as if it was second nature to them.

As they draw 90 minutes to a regal close on 'Fueiho Boogie' - which indeed everyone was by this time, boogieing - you simply couldn't fault their drive, enthusiasm, and the quality of their songs. With a headline US tour in the offing, you can already sed Swim Deep being another proud British export to our American cousins.

Photo: Rosie Mulhern

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